What are my rights as a Freelancer?

What are my rights as a Freelancer?

Freelance workers enjoy numerous privileges. The ability to pick and choose jobs as they see fit, the lack of daily 7am wake up calls and the non-existence of somebody to answer to. However, these luxuries come at a cost. Being your own boss means you are not entitled to the same benefits enjoyed by regular employees, with some subtle differences between the two. Today, the numbers of freelancers are rapidly growing in the UK, with a recent report revealing around 1 in 20 now call themselves ‘freelance.’ Therefore, it’s never been more important to explain what your rights are as a freelancer.

Basic Rights

Freedom:
Now, as a self-employed person, it means you do not have the right to claim redundancy pay should a client not afford to keep you or expect to receive any sort of sick pay or maternity leave if you cannot get to work. In return for the loss of these privileges, though, a client can never expect you to devote yourself entirely to their project, unless otherwise stipulated in the work contract. Being a freelancer means you work on a flexible basis and you need to make sure this is protected.

Substitution:
Moreover, being a freelancer means that if you can’t complete the work personally, you are more often than not allowed to hand the work over to an appropriate substitute who shall undertake the work for you. Only in situations such as with artistic work or writing work, where your name is intended on being published alongside is this not allowed, or when stipulated in the contract beforehand.

Fair and Prompt Payment of Invoices:
Another thing you have a right to claim is prompt and fair payment for your work. All too often contractors get a little tardy with their payments, dragging to process out unnecessarily. If this happens to you, you do not need to accept it. Seek professional advice when possible; contact employment solicitors who can explain the process in full and consult you on your next move. Usually, the best course of action in this instance is to seek compensation through a small claims court; a low-key affair that (usually) does not involve huge investments of time or money.

The whole process can be a slow one, though, as the cogs of liturgy often turn at a snail’s pace. So use this as a last resort. When possible, adhere to the golden rule of freelancing and ensure all work is completed under a legally binding contract where the expectations from both parties are laid out concisely and simply.

Fundamentally, your rights as a freelancer are not so different to those of a regular employee. It could be said that, as a freelancer, a trade is made between job security and freedom, however, do not be fooled. Your income is as secure as a regular employee once you have agreed to undertake that work, and make sure you are treated fairly, whatever your line of business.

Author Bio:
This is a guest post written by David Williamson who is a guest blogger and Marketing Executive at Coles-Solicitors. He writes on different law and legal topics to share his knowledge with different bloggers and online legal readers.

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How to advance in your legal career

Many graduates leave University with law degrees and then become stuck in a rut. I think it is important to know that by possessing a law degree it does not mean that you are an immediate lawyer (even though your friends and family may disagree and any legal dispute will of course be brought forward to you). However, by having a law degree you could open up doors that you didn’t see available to you beforehand. Paralegal positions and legal opportunities in large companies are always different directions available to graduates and can be affluent ways to develop a career in law.
I think many people forget that being a solicitor or lawyer does require some commitment. Not only effort wise but financially too. In fact, the financial implications could effectively change any dreams you may have of becoming the next big thing. Be wary of competition and remember that by putting money into a legal career that you are investing in yourself. So as simple as it may seem; invest your time wisely because if you don’t then someone else will.
Lawyers have to earn their positions and this shouldn’t be forgotten. This means that they have had to work their way up to where they are now. This means that networking, attending court, gaining as much experience and knowledge as possible has all contributed to their career so far. This also means that most lawyers will have debt that needs paying, and this means that their financial rewards will be gained; but only in time.
If your legal career does not seem to be taking off then you need to ask yourself some questions. Have I put in the effort I needed to? Am I committed enough? Do I know what’s going on in the industry? By knowing what is going on you will have a better tread when networking and also in interview situations. It is well worth following high-profile cases as these will be discussed but show a deeper interest too. Research a niche; know what’s going on because one day that conversation will come up regarding said niche when it will make the difference when showing your knowledge could effectively give you a contact that nobody else will have.
Make people aware you exist. Be knowledgeable, friendly, approachable, assertive but most importantly trustworthy. These are vital skills and if you don’t possess this basic skill set then you won’t just find a career in law difficult but near-on impossible.
Be determined. You are going to get turned away from at least one potential job. Do not see this as a negative. See this as a learning curve. Find out why if you can and use this to your advantage in future. In fact, this may be the most brutal, honest feedback you will ever receive. Take it on the chin, to coin a phrase, and go from there in developing yourself. Put a plan together, write it down, think about it, and work on it. Be realistic. Be determined. Be committed. Do not be put off.
Hopefully, if you work with these facts you may troubleshoot your way out from possible pitfalls that you could have fallen in to. Use these to make sure you are becoming a consummate professional whilst simultaneously having a personality that makes you stand out as this is important. Legal careers are competitive but with hard-work and determination you’ll stand a far better chance.

This is a guest post written by Matt Jones on behalf of Pannone, a law firm based in Manchester.

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Minimum Wage for Trainees…Pffft.

Enjoy my most recent blog post for law careers net here:

http://www.lawcareers.net/information/blog/CityLawyer/Money-Talks

A systematic destruction of a fellow bloggers article!

TCL

Taxing Work

We all hate it, we all wish we were able to avoid it and we all wish we could have it back. What am I talking about? Tax…clearly!

In this article you are to be blessed with my insights into the fabulously glamorous world of tax. Presuming I still have your attention after that last sentence, then what I am about to impart on the world is my (probably insane) views as to how we could modify the UK tax system for the better (The City Lawyer for Prime Minister you say? – agreed!)

My views are based on one simple question, what do we pay tax for? The clear answer = to fund the government and state services I.e. schools, politicians local councils roads etc. but surely all the money isn’t spent on roads and state services? Correct you are. A good portion of our taxes are spent on welfare and dare I say even given to other countries.

Now, I expect this next paragraph to be highly contentious and unpopular with some.

Let’s cut taxes massively. I’m talking a rate of say 5-10% maximum tax rate or to a level where the pure necessities are covered, schools, hospitals, the police etc and lets make benefits available only to those who are incapable of working due to a disability of some kind. If you can work you should work. I can hear the critics already moaning that there aren’t enough jobs. However, with the extra money buzzing around in people’s bank accounts, what will they do? Spend, spend, spend. So a demand for consumer goods will occur and what happens with increased demand? Increased jobs! Look at that, suddenly the unemployed have jobs! How do I know that mentality works? Well let’s take the recent recession. Money stops flowing, job cuts, rise in unemployment. Work that backwards, increase money, increase jobs, reduce unemployment. Whola! Now, not only is unemployment on the decline under this new tax system, but the government will be in for extra tax revenues. What, how? You’re suggesting massive tax cuts. Yes massive income tax cuts. Fix corporation tax permanently at 20% and wait for us to go out and blow our much increased salaries on goods and services. These translating into tidy returns in the form of extra corporation tax revenues!

What about the underprivileged? Well, they will have real incentives to work hard both at school and in future occupation. Everyone will pay the same rate of tax. We will all be able to work hard and keep more and change our stars. I can’t think of a fairer system than that. Benefits will be a very very last resort for those who really need them.

What about foreign aid? Well, the last time I checked we were a fair few billion quid in the negative. Don’t get me wrong, if we can help others we should, but that should not be to the detriment of ourselves. Unless you were entirely selfless and somewhat stupid you wouldn’t donate blood if your body was running short of it. In fact you probably wouldn’t be allowed and I think that mentality should be applied here in the UK. Foreign aid is paid after all of our debts are dealt with.

Do I think this can really work? Well yes I actually do. Countries on our very doorstep, the Isle of Man or Guernsey and Jersey have similar tax structures and they have come out of the recession a lot better than we have. Furthermore, it shows that low tax works. Instead of criticising tax havens let’s examine why they have been so successful and ask ourselves why not. The people who put their money in offshore jurisdictions do so because they are attractive and make sense. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had that opportunity and not just the high net worths?

TCL

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Billable’s

When you start out in the city your first few weeks are a bit…well roshambo (google it if you miss the meaning!) . You get taught a lot of things which seem useful at the time – here is your legal research login, this is our standard form letter etc etc. However, something you are not often told, especially as a trainee is what you need to be billing each month. Trust me, all firms have expectations, even for trainees and if your a paralegal fee earner, then yup the partners have targets for you too.

So let’s talk figures. Think monthly and think of a figure that you think your law firm (or law firm to be if you haven’t yet embarked upon your city career) would be happy with as your billable hours figure. Okay, now double it. That’s probably more accurate.

To put it in perspective for you, my own last months billable hours amounted to £18,000. That was quite an average month. That is a yearly figure of £216,000 – I would say that isn’t to bad at all for a trainee, but some may disagree!

Now if you are a partner or senior associate your billable hours better be well above that figure. It’s a well known “secret” that, at some law firms, if you miss your billable targets for more than two months in a row, you are automatically placed on the redundancy list – forget holidays at these firms and get billing.

In earlier blogs I wrote that you should aim to bill 3-4x your salary. However, If your looking to make partner, I would advise aiming for 5x or more of your salary. If your earning £50,000 and your charge rate is £200 p/h that’s 1250 billable hours each year or 24 hours per week of billable time. Now this may not seem a lot, but remember, not all of a lawyers time is chargeable, and when you factor in business development / networking as well as these non chargeable activities, you have to be relatively efficient to hit these targets! I hasten to add that these targets are relatively modest with the US Firms requiring significantly more!

It’s not all doom and gloom though because if you are entitled to a bonus, then the more you bill the more you make! C’est la vie!

TCL

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Crime Does Pay

I like hypothetical scenarios. They make for interesting conversation and often work well at hammering a point home! With that in mind, how about this:

The Crew of the Blowfish (Yes “THE” Blowfish for all you non-mariners – she is my hypothetical ship) see a small fast moving vessel approaching their slow moving tanker just off the panhandle of Somalia. From experience and industry knowledge they know that these are pirates. So what do they do? Well, they are sailing a vessel full of crude oil moving at a comparably slow rate of knots and the pirates have Rocket Propelled Grenades. They stop of course and the pirates board the ship, make contact with the owners of The Blowfish and demand a significant ransome. The ransome figure, being poised at less than 1% of the value of the vessel, is referred to the vessels insurers and as all good insurers do, they take the lowest risk option and pay the ransome for the ships release. I dont know about you, but that sounds like easy money to me.

The insurer faced with a loss, has but one option, raise its premiums for ships passing Somalia. So when The Blowfishes sister, The Coral, insures it’s voyage, it pays a huge premium to do so or runs the risk of running without insurance (this would never happen, as this would invalidate nearly any contract for the transport of goods at sea). It is difficult to see how this transfer of funds from insurer to pirate does not constitute the criminal act of terrorist financing. We have swathes of legislation regulating the smallest of transactions in the financial services sector in the UK yet insurers are able to pay millions to gangs with boats. It’s mind blowing.

The insurance industry is financing these gangs and it’s outrageous that more isn’t done to clamp down on ransome payments. For every £1 spent on ransome payments, the insurance industry would be better 1) placing ex-military spec ops teams on board all insured vessels 2) investing in the redevelopment of lawless nations like Somalia. The problem is not that pirates exist, but that they exist and nothing is done to stop them by the very country that they reside in. If Somlia had a government and was not a lawless state, the international community would put exceptional pressure on the country to irradiate piracy. It may not solve the problem, but would do a whole lot to help!

However, for the time being, crime does pay!

TCL

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Why Are Lawyers Paid So Much?

There is often a great deal of hostility towards lawyers and their pay packets, especially in the city and the financial crisis has done little to reduce the stigma placed on salaries of skilled legal professionals. So, for all you non lawyers who wonder both why lawyers are paid so much and why your lawyers fees are £400 per hour. This ones for you.

Lets start with some simple facts.

To be a lawyer (at least in the UK) you must have a degree. This means that you must go to university and you have to bear the costs of this if you are to pursue this as a career. Okay, so do many other people and jobs. Now factor this into the equation – many law firms will only recruit from the best universities. They do this because they know that there is an oversupply of qualified people and in that situation how else do you distinguish one person from another. So, going to a good university, what does that require, well you have to be able to pay a premium to go to better universities and certainly if you go to a university in London the costs associated with doing so have to be borne in mind. So 3 years x £9000 (from 2012 onwards) = £27,000 in tuition and 3 years x £3,300 per year in living cost = call it £10,000 for ease. So £37,000 is required just to get you through a degree.

Okay, so you have an LLB, now you have to complete the LPC which is another £10,000 plus living costs for the year.

By the time you are ready to start work as a trainee your anticipated debt level could be  a staggering £50,000!

Still think that trainee salaries of £40,000 are too much? Don’t forget to factor tax into that, so take home is around £34,000. Also, living in London you can expect to pay at least £400 per week for a shared flat in a half decent neighbourhood, so that’s another £1,600 per month out of the £34,000 take home per year. Not  that great after all…

So now you see that we lawyers incur huge debts to get to where we want to be, the next question is why do law firms charge so much per hour for their lawyers

Well there are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, law firms have to pay lawyers salaries. 40 x £40,000 per year is a huge overhead for a law firm and that is assuming 40 people at trainee level. There are senior associates being paid £100,000+, so £40k is very conservative. Next  office premises. As a lawyer, your firm’s image is what attracts clients and you have to have nice offices. Prime, good quality office premises in London are not cheap. £100,000+ per year for anything in the financial district for even a relatively small office space. Then there is professional indemnity insurance. Another few thousand per year. It all adds up! So next time you complain that your lawyer is charging £400 per hour, remember that £250-300 of that is likely to be overheads. The Formula often told to new lawyers is that whatever salary you expect to make, take this number, multiply it by 4 and that is what you are expected to bill for the firm per year. So if you want to make £100,000 you need to be billing £400,000. That is because 1/4 goes on your salary, 1/4 – 1/2 goes on overheads and 1/4 is profit.

For all you lawyer basher out there, I hope this helps clear a few things up!

TCL

Pearls of Infinite Wisdom

So, your a city lawyer. But what did they not teach you in law school?

They certainly didn’t teach me the following handy tips for the practice of law at the highest level:

  1. Read every email three times before you hit send.
  2. The to: and cc: lines are the most important items in every email you send. The consequences of mistakes there are dire.
  3. Your job is 50% legal expertise and 50% Microsoft Word expertise.
  4. Every document you send should look like the proverbial “million dollar” document. Think about what your client is paying for it.
  5. Clients want the answer to 2 questions: (1) what did we do in the past? (2) what are others doing in the same situation?
  6. Never let an email go unanswered for more than six hours.
  7. Silence is often the most powerful negotiating tactic.
  8. Always try to end a negotiation with respect from the other side of the table.
  9. Never engage in brinksmanship or mutually assured destruction.
  10. Never tell the adverse party that you have a deadline for closing a deal.
  11. Competition is the best leverage.
  12. There is no justice in the universe – deal with it.

Lawcareers.net

The City Lawyer’s reach is going global!!! Okay, Okay you got me, i’m not making my television debut on CNN or anything like that, but I have kindly been given a spot as a regular blogger on Lawcareers.net

As a law student I was an avid user of Lawcareers.net, using their website to clue up before the big interview and narrow down the choice of firms! Undoubtedly it is one of the best resources for aspiring city lawyers. Of course the material I will be blogging about there will be far different to my own personal blog, so if you’re not tired of my rants then feel free to mosey over to (http://www.lawcareers.net/Information/Blog/CityLawyer/) and check out the material I will be publishing on there!

All for the moment!

TCL

Facebook IPO

Facebook. The world’s largest social media platform. The world’s most successful start up story. The bigger they are the harder they fall? Is this the beginning of the end for this social colossus?
The hysteria of this IPO has been going on for months and there are some very, very optimistic people out there who cannot wait to get their grubby mitts on a piece of the juice facey-b. But I am unconvinced that this is the best move for the company in the long term.
I have read the Security & Exchange filing for Facebook (it is available here: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1326801/000119312512034517/d287954ds1.htm). The filing is impressive and Mr Zuckerberg’s use of the like button was even more so. If you haven’t read it, the Like button is what catapulted Facebook into the stratosphere of advertising. It makes sense, yes I like your product, so do 260,000,000 other people. Bingo, we have a winner OR… the man in the council flat in Bognor Regis liked the new BMW 7 series…well I think we are in trouble. The power of this simple mouse click is phenomenal and the revenues generated from advertising because of it are mind boggling.
So, you’re probably thinking, hey this seems good stuff, let me get some of these shares! Well, as usual to be a bit controversial and to add my own spin do you really want to invest in a company where the guys who are responsible for its success are cashing out? Read the filing and the news, many of the ‘old timers’ are taking their £16 million and high tailing it to the Maldives – I cant say I blame them. So to answer my own rhetorical question, yes, yes I do still want to invest in a company where the guys who started it are cashing out. Facebook is massive. It is dynamic, it has huge ad revenues which are continually pouring in and it can do just about whatever it wants. If Facebook decides to go into manufacturing car’s look out Ford! If Facebook starts developing Land in Mozambique, I will be on the first flight there to get in while the going is good. The power of a mega corp should not be underestimated. People often think that because some people in an organisation leave the organisation will be less versatile. Not true at all. New blood is brought in and this often spurs a new wave of creativity. Also, it doesn’t seem that Mr Z is going anywhere fast, except in to the top 20 of The Times top 100 rich list / Forbes rich list.
So when summer rolls around, top up your brokerage account and look happy! – I for sure will.
TCL

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